Sports apps amp up fan experience
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The best apps for sports fans do a lot more than just list scores. While keeping track of who's winning a particular game can be crucial, many sports apps have moved into live streaming, casual in-game betting and even the microanalysis of athletic technique. Here are five applications that have the capacity to change the way we watch, play and think about sports:
Whether attending a game in person or watching on TV, most fans have at one time or another played little guessing games with friends, even if they're as innocuous as, "I bet he strikes out here." MLB PrePlay turns that trivial pastime into a legitimate "game" of sorts, having players predict the outcomes of individual at-bats throughout every game of the season. Users are ranked and can even earn trophies for completing various tasks, like correctly predicting an entire inning's worth of outcomes. PrePlay created a whole new way to watch a baseball game, and we hope the app adds more features for next season.
NBA Game Time 2012-13
NBA Game Time definitely hit its stride in 2012. It added coverage of the NBA Summer League to its already stream-heavy feature set and proved that the NBA is as much of a 12-month sport as any other. Its mix of video highlights, home and away audio feeds, and streaming video (as long as you already subscribed to NBA League Pass) made Game Time an essential app in 2012.
Last year's Tiger Woods: My Swing was a brilliant idea for an app. It essentially allowed users to record video of their golf swings and then match them up against Tiger's. Coach's Eye offers similar micro-editing techniques but employs them over a wider net, so players of different sports can really dissect their techniques. While Coach's Eye doesn't provide pro examples to model your moves after, it still provides features like swing planes and virtual lines for analyzing posture and the like. It's a promising step in the right direction for the future of video analysis in sports.
Football fans have been making picks for years now, but Football Pickem finally presents an opportunity to make them as part of a global community. Users can create specific pools for their friends or compete weekly against specific individuals to see who made the best picks. The app also tracks trophies, leader boards and numerous stats for each pick. It isn't revolutionary, but the ability to make picks on the go is great for football fanatics.
(iOS, Android; free)
As WatchESPN added more and more cable system support in 2012, it became one of the year's most integral apps for fans of the network. With a streaming selection that includes NBA, MLB, the Masters, NCAA football and basketball, this app was ideal when you couldn't get in front of a TV to watch a big game. When you add the live games to ESPN hallmarks like "SportsCenter," "Pardon the Interruption" and "SportsNation," WatchESPN really packs a streaming video punch.
Out of print
The rustle of pages will be replaced by soundless swipes in a public library proposed for San Antonio. BiblioTech, which will resemble an Apple Store more than a traditional library, will offer thousands of electronic publications and lend e-readers to patrons. Bexar County, Texas, says it will be the country's first "bookless" public library. BiblioTech is expected to open this summer.
Wikivoyage sets sail
Looking for the perfect vacation spot? Follow the crowd-source. Wikivoyage officially launched last week, and like its popular parent Wikipedia, entries on the travel destination site are written and edited in a collaborative effort by Internet volunteers around the world. Wikivoyage says its goal is to provide a "complete, up-to-date and reliable worldwide travel guide."
In 2012, 'Duty' called
Soldiers, quarterbacks and dancers ruled the keyboards and controllers in 2012. Port Washington-based research firm NPD Group says the top-selling video game last year was "Call of Duty: Black Ops II," followed by "Madden NFL 13." Rounding out the top five were "Halo 4," "Assassin's Creed III" and "Just Dance 4." For the year, game sales were $7.1 billion, down 22 percent from 2011. -- Peter King